Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Ladies & Gentlemen, The Beatles!

“Honoured by their country, decorated by their Queen, and loved here in America, here are The Beatles”. The Beatles, one of the greatest bands in the world, their music was loved by millions all over, managing to break America but throughout their discography, you can see that the band never lost touch from where they were from.

Liverpool 1956, we were first introduced to the skiffle/rock and roll group, The Quarrymen, taking their name from the group members school, Quarry Bank High School. The group was originally formed by John Lennon. July 1957, Paul McCartney was introduced to the group later joining in October of that year. The Quarrymen would then invite two new members in George Harrison and Stuart Sutcliffe. After the Quarrymen split leaving 3 of their members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Stuart Sutcliffe. to form a new band, The Beatles. In August of 1960, the band asks their now former drummer Pete Best to join the group. They were building their reputation on playing clubs in Liverpool and Hamburg. In 1961, Sutcliffe left the band with McCartney replacing him on bass. Pete Best would then be replaced by Ringo Starr a year later. The band still stuck with the same name.

The band clearly makes references to their city Liverpool in their songs. It is shown that growing up in Liverpool has had an impact on some of their songs, especially in their later years, this can be heard on their 1967 album Magical Mystery Tour. 

In My Life

The song was created as a general nostalgia about John Lennon’s life. The original lyrics described the bus ride that John would take in his younger days from Menlove Avenue, where he lived, into Liverpool Centre, even mentioning places such as Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields. The idea was discarded in favour to the new lyrics which was more of a subtle nod to his past. 

The line “Some are dead and some are living, in my life I’ve loved them all”, is a remembrance for Stuart Sutcliffe who was an early Beatle and great friend of John Lennon who passed away in 1962. Stuart Sutcliffe also appeared in the Liverpool skiffle group The Quarrymen.

In My Life was released in December 1965.

Eleanor Rigby

Although, it is to be told that the song Eleanor Rigby is not based on someone that Paul McCartney knew personally, in St Peter’s churchyard, located in Woolton, Liverpool, lies the grave of Eleanor Rigby (1895-1939). McCartney had visited St Peter’s church at a memorable garden fete in 1957 where he prepares remembered seeing the name on a gravestone but later goes on to say that he the original name he had in mind was Daisy Hawkins, he later changed this to Eleanor after the actress Eleanor Bron who had starred in The Beatles 1965 film Help! (We can agree that this is a major coincidence!) 

The song goes on to tell a story about a fictional character, Eleanor Rigby, who is lonely and depressed, the famous song lines states “Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been”. The song also mentions another character, Father McKenzie, who is the pastor of the church where Eleanor Rigby stays outside. In the third verse, Eleanor dies in the church and Father McKenzie buries here. Fans of The Beatles have now linked this to the gravestone which is located in Woolton, Liverpool. 

The song was released in August 1966 and yet again, becoming an iconic Beatles song.

Penny Lane

Penny Lane, the street in Liverpool that was made famous by the band in February 1967, featuring on their 1967 album, Magical Mystery Tour. The song is seemingly narrated on a summer's day, referring to the lyrics “beneath the blue suburban skies” but the song does mention at the same time that the “fireman rushes in from the pouring rain”, the song also applies that it is approaching winter “selling poppies from a tray” which is a nod to Remembrance Day. The song also referenced to the Penny Lane Bus Station, which is now gone, next to the “shelter in the middle of the roundabout”, this is a reference from when the boys were young and they would meet at this bus station as it was a hub to get them anywhere, they wanted to go and was centrally located to all of them. “There is a barber showing photographs of every head he’s had the pleasure to have known” is a reference to the barber, James Bioletti, who use to cut the hair of John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison when they were children. It is clear throughout the song that McCartney turned some of his most memorable moments into a timeless song, celebrating a part of Liverpool in which he grew up.

Due to the song's popularity, Penny Lane has evolved to accommodate many tourists and fans who come to visit the now famous, Liverpool landmark. Penny Lane now offered Beatles-themed dining and memorabilia. 

Strawberry Fields Forever

Strawberry Field was a Salvation Army home in Liverpool where John Lennon used to go. John could see Strawberry Fields from his house where he lived with his Aunt Mimi, although John lived in the suburbs of a nice semidetached place in Liverpool, he would visit Strawberry Fields. The song delves into Lennon’s experience and memories as a child, visiting the Salvation Army home, having played in the gardens of the area with his childhood friends, they also had a band that would play at the Calderstones Park garden every summer right next to the orphanage. Although John’s, Aunt Mimi (who helped bring up John), did not like John going to Strawberry Fields as it deemed as an orphanage and she thought that this would leave John astray. The line “Nothing to get hung about” was in relation to arguments John and his Aunt Mimi would have when John would visit Strawberry Fields as he would often reply with “What are they going to do, hang me?”. John Lennon wrote the song whilst he was in Spain working on a movie called “How I Won the War”, it is clear that Liverpool and his memories of Strawberry Fields have helped him to write this song that is has become a Beatles classic after being released in February of 1967 and featuring on their 1967 album, Magical Mystery Tour. Strawberry Fields was also the B side to their single Penny Lane. Throughout this time, there were rumours that Paul McCartney had died and was replaced by a look-alike, at the end of the song you can hear a distorted voice which sounds like “I buried Paul”, the voice is actually John Lennon “Cranberry sauce”. 

Sadly, in December 1980, John Lennon was shot outside of his New York apartment. There is now a memorial to John in Central Park called “Strawberry Fields” this is located across The Dakota, the building in New York City where John lived. The Strawberry Fields memorial was officially dedicated on October 1985. The memorial that represents Lennon’s legacy as a visionary of world peace.

Although the title of the song implies that Strawberry Fields is forever, unfortunately, in 2005, Britain’s Salvation Army closed the Strawberry Field children’s home. However, Strawberry Fields has now opened its iconic red gates to the public for the first time in September 2019. As this is no longer the Salvation Army children’s home, Strawberry Fields now serves as a unique addition to Beatles tourism in Liverpool. It now includes an interactive visitor exhibition, cafe, shop, calm and garden spaces which you can explore in the same grounds as John Lennon did as a child, the memories that stuck with I’m to create such a classic song.

The Impact The Beatles Have Had on Liverpool

The Beatles are known worldwide for their music and culture but the city that John, Paul, George and Ringo are from have definitely made sure that not one person forgets about their legacy.

The National Trust has created an experience for Beatles fans, allowing them to walk inside John Lennon and Paul McCartney's childhood homes and seeing where The Beatles were originally formed. They will also take you on a trip down Penny Lane to show where they bought their first guitars and wrote some of The Beatles world-famous songs.

May 1990, The Beatles Story was opened in Albert Docks, Liverpool. The World largest permanent exhibition which tells the store of the lives and time of The Beatles. The exhibition shows the journey from when The Beatles started in Liverpool to finding their fame. Showcasing the band's memorabilia, exclusive photography and of course including their music playing around the exhibition which is in relation to the era you are in. The Beatles Story has created replicas of the Casbah, Mathew Street, Abbey Road Studios and The Cavern which helps capture the early '60s, allowing you to personally experience the very places that helped make The Beatles the greatest band in the world. To make this inclusive to any Beatles fan, The Beatles Story having included ‘Living History’ audio guides in twelve different languages. After you are done with your tour, you can visit the Discovery Zone, Fab4 Cafes and Fab4 Stores.

In February 1961, The Beatles first performed at the iconic Liverpool night club The Cavern Club located on Matthew Street. It became the place where they were founded by Liverpool businessman Brian Epstein whose family owned the nearby record store NEMS, he offered to become the band's manager by June 1962 and had secured a recording contract for them with Parlophone Records. You can visit The Cavern Club and enjoy a drink with some live music by local artists, take a photo in front of the iconic door and see all the photos scattered around the placed with a lot of celebrities who have visited The Cavern Club. 

Roll up for the Magical Mystery Tour! The tour starts at Albert Docks where you’ll go around Liverpool for 2 hours on the Magical Mystery Tour bus which is a replica of the bus seen in the 1967 film Magical Mystery Tour which features The Beatles for their 1967 album, Magical Mystery Tour. You’ll see the places which are associated with John, Paul, George and Ringo as they grew up, met and formed the band. You can see the Beatles childhood homes, schools and colleges, and of course the places that have helped inspire some of their most iconic songs. 

You can also visit the A Hard Days Night Hotel, a nod to their 1964 album A Hard Day's Night, the world’s only inspired Beatles hotel. Located at the hearts of Liverpool’s ‘Beatle Quarter’ (sitting adjacent to the world famous Cavern Club). This hotel is perfect for any Beatle fan who would like a chilled out weekend and can enjoy some afternoon tea listening to Beatle songs. 

Liverpool has done a lot to impact The Beatles careers and inspired some of their most memorable tracks. Over the years it is clear to see The Beatles have now had a massive impact in Liverpool. It is truly amazing to see a city so proud of an artist and I definitely hope to see this again. 

- Shauna Grimmett
- @shaunagrimmett 

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